The Conservation Officer Service is asking the public to walk in groups and keep children close after four cougars were seen in the Deep Cove area of North Vancouver.
“While we know these cougars are in the area, the public should keep pets and children inside. When outside, the public should walk in groups and keep children closely monitored,” COS said in an email to the North Shore Daily Post.
COS has received three reports to the RAPP line since Jan 18, describing a family of three kittens and one adult female cougar in the neighbourhood. Remains of a deer consistent with cougar feeding have also been reported in Deep Cove’s Myrtle Park. However, there have been no reports of aggressive behaviours towards residents.
COS said cougar family units sometimes utilize semi-urban areas to prey on species such as deer and raccoons. The agency is providing public safety information in Deep Cove and is encouraging the public to call in with sightings and conflicts to the RAPP line. COS adds that cougar attacks are extremely rare, but caution should be observed.
Deep Cove residents have been posting videos and pictures of cougars in the neighbourhood. In January, a local resident posted a video of four cougars prowling at night. Deep Cove resident Caroline Girbeau Vincent also shared photos on social media of cougars slinking from her backyard fence to the neighbour’s yard this past Saturday. Vincent, who lives on Lockehaven Place in Deep Cove, said it was around 7 pm on Saturday when she heard a noise in the backyard. She switched on the light and was stunned to see four cougars. She took pictures and then drove around the neighbourhood to alert others who may be out.
“I was really shocked, just stunned. I took my car to see where they had gone, and I saw someone walking their dog, and I told them to take their dog and go home,” she says. Although COS says they received reports of three kittens and one adult, Vincent says all four in her backyard looked like adult cougars.
“They were big cougars, and they looked like adults.” She has also called her neighbours and alerted them to what she had seen and plans to call the COS again. “I really think it’s getting too close. They are beautiful and majestic animals, but a bit too close for my comfort,” she says.
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Cougar encounter: What to do
Stay Calm and Keep the Cougar in View: Maintain composure if you encounter a cougar. Keep the animal in sight while avoiding sudden movements or noises that may startle it further. Immediately pick up children as they may provoke an attack with their unpredictable movements.
Back Away Slowly, Keeping the Cougar in Front: Retreat slowly from the cougar, ensuring it has a clear path to escape. Make yourself appear as large as possible and maintain eye contact with the cougar. Avoid turning your back or running, which could trigger a predatory response.
Respond Aggressively if the Cougar Shows Interest: Respond assertively if the Cougar displays interest or begins to follow you. Maintain eye contact, show your teeth, and make loud noises to intimidate the animal. Arm yourself with rocks or sticks to deter the cougar from escalating its behaviour.
Fight Back if Attacked: In the event of an attack, defend yourself vigorously. Convince the cougar that you are a threat, not prey, by targeting its face and eyes with anything at your disposal—rocks, sticks, bear spray, or personal belongings. You aim to deter the cougar’s aggression and protect yourself from harm.
You can read more at the Government of BC’s website.